CASEY McGLYNN on view at Katharine Mulherin Gallery (1086 Queen West) until March 25. 416-537-8827. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
the big-box diorama assem blages that make up painter Casey McGlynn's A Circus For the Music-Box People have the gritty, playful appeal of Mexican folk art or kids' pop-up books. With roots in outsider culture, McGlynn uses plywood cut-outs of animals and people, gouged scrap wood, scratchy chalk drawings and text to convey loose narratives on the tragi-comedy of everyday life. It's not to all tastes, but I'm a sucker for this kind of instantly accessible art.
McGlynn's critters -- he's got a soft spot for horses -- have a formless Animal Cracker appeal, as do his people. They come in couples, often touching or side by side, and they seem sad.
The works are strongest when they're kept uncluttered, and when McGlynn lets the bowed heads and spindly legs of his subjects -- and his witty titles -- speak for themselves.
In Trying On New Rolls... Standing On Animals, a lumpen human shape walks on the bent back of a horse. In The Story Of The Death Of Mary Farim, little acrobats balance on tightropes stretched across three boxes as dog-like creatures painted in stripes wait hungrily below with open mouths.
McGlynn's texts are less successful. The poorly penned, misspelled fragments of love notes and letters home from In Their Heads -- read by looking through holes shaped like human heads in profile -- are confusing and naive.
Rough as they are, I like the dioramas' slapped-together energy and McGlynn's affinity with animals.LM *